Did you know that Marvin Gaye lived in Ostend?
Some Belgian stories are not that well known. American soul star Marvin Gaye ended up in Ostend in 1981. At his lowest moral ebb, he spent one and a half years there to try and regain his inspiration. One of his legendary albums would emerge from the beaches of Ostend.
Marvin Gaye was already a huge star when he arrived on a liner from England on 14 February 1981. But he was on the edge of the abyss. As well as financial problems and a broken heart, he was also addicted to drugs and alcohol. He went to stay with Freddy Cousaert, an Ostend hotelier and occasional manager, who offered to give him a home. As he would say soon afterwards, "Marvin liked the wind and the rain, the honesty of the sea. When I told him he could find as much of these things as he wanted in Ostend, he immediately decided to come and spend two weeks here." He ended up spending one and a half years on the Belgian coast.
He lived in a small apartment on Koningstraat. The building is very close to the Mercury Hotel, the hotel owned by Freddy and Liliane Cousaert. Marvin Gaye went there to eat and Liliane would prepare his favourite dishes of sole or chicken.
The singer regained a taste for life, no longer hanging out with the wrong crowd and gradually beginning to put himself back together in semi-anonymity. "Marvin started running on the beach. Someone gave him a racing bike, and he sometimes boxed," said Liliane Cousaert. And, more importantly, the artist regained his inspiration.
During his recovery in Ostend, Marvin Gaye wrote one of his greatest albums (Midnight Love), which featured the huge hit Sexual Healing. This album would influence the history of soul music and was recorded in Belgium.